Born in 1904, Salvador Dalí was extremely creative from a young age. He studied at San Fernando Academy of Art in Madrid, experimenting with different styles, including futurism, impressionism and cubism. The artist was first introduced to Surrealism by André Breton on a trip to Paris and he instantly fell in love. In 1925, Dalí had his first ever solo exhibition and all the works were executed in the Surrealist style. Over his career, Dalí became synonymous with the movement, with iconic artworks like The Persistence of Memory (1931) and Lobster Telephone (1936) becoming key pieces of the genre. From the distortion of depth perception to the vast isolated landscapes of his paintings, we look at five contemporary artists whose works pay homage to the king of Surrealism.
IMAGE OF SALVADOR DALÍ
With Koons becoming familiar with Dalí’s work from a very young age, he has continually quoted the Surrealist as an artistic inspirationthroughout his career. During his teenage years, the artist even wrote to Dalí who, to his surprise, invited him to come and meet him at the St. Regis in New York and toured him around his latest exhibition. Koons was fascinated by the Surrealist’s ability to mesh personal and mass-culture iconography, creating a cohesive image made of seemingly dislocated parts. This influence is evident in the American artist’s balloon animal sculptures which have become iconic in their own right.
JEFF KOONS, BALLOON RABBIT, MONKEY AND SWAN, 2017
A shapeshifter of genres, Ross Muir can turn his hand to any style. Taking artworks with historical significance and inserting his own visual lexis to make them accessible, Muir is a master of the history of art. Reimagining everything from Basquiat to Lichtenstein, the Scottish contemporary artist has also taken inspiration from Dalí himself with his 2021 canvas Clocks paying homage to The Persistence of Memory (1931). Replacing a melting clock face with Gucci sneakers and updating the clocks to Rolex watches, Muir’s artwork is a playful tribute to the Spanish artist.
Reminiscent of Dalí’s otherworldly canvases, Condo fuses abstraction, cubism, and surrealism to create fanciful landscapes and grotesque portraits. Tapping into different psychological states, Condo’s dream-like works echo that of Dalí’s, both through subject matter and palette. Chimeric animals and exaggerated parts are amplified through vivid pops of colour that captivate the viewer. Building upon Dalí’s tradition, Condo has established himself as a key player within contemporary art, injecting new life into the world of traditional Surrealist painting.
GEORGE CONDO, DROOPY DOG ABSTRACTION, 2017
Creating colossal Surrealist sculptures, Joseph Klibansky is similar to Dalí both in style and in methodology. His vast sculptures see animals and astronauts in fantastical scenarios like celebrating with party hats or doing yoga. His extraordinary sculptures are often executed on a monumental scale, towering above the viewer. Like Dalí, Klibansky also utilises a large studio system to execute his astonishing sculptures, using assistants and a vast team to accomplish the marvellous situations he conjures up in his mind.
BIG BANG, JOSEPH KLIBANKSY, 2019
At first glance, there seems little connection between Salvador Dalí and fine art photographer David Yarrow. Although, in many ways their practice completely juxtapose, both artists utilise the sublimity of vast landscapes and the narrative potential of nature. There are strong similarities when comparing Yarrow’s photography to Dalí’s Surrealist paintings that feature animals, especially works such as The Temptation of St. Anthony (1946) and The Elephants (1948). Depicting animals that punctuate muted horizons, Yarrow and Dalí both honour the awe-inspiring nature of wildlife.
DAVID YARROW, GIRAFFE CITY, 2016